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“Fifth Way” Love: A Romantic Path to Transformation

I will open this post with the excerpt from Cynthia Bourgeault’s signature work, The Meaning of MARY MAGDALENE – Discovering The Woman at the Heart of Christianity – with which I closed my previous post, and will continue quoting her commentary in its entirety. She quotes here a passage from the Gospel of Philip:

“The one who creates objects works outwardly in the external world. The one who labors in secret, however, works within the icon, hidden inwardly from others. The one who creates make objects visible to the world. The one who conceives gives birth to children in the Realm of the Unseen.”

In this complex distinction . . . Philip insists that begetting must come “from above”. . . .  It requires a free and conscious regeneration in the Spirit. “Begotten” is an alchemy in which spirit actively participates, and its fruit is the anthropos, or completed human being. 

THE SPIRITUAL KISS THAT BEGETS

From Philip’s point of view, then, lineal descendents of Jesus, even if they existed, would not be “anointed ones,” unless this claim were to be validated by their own spiritual transformation. The kingdom over which the Anointed One reigns is beyond the space/time continuum and cannot be inherited lineally (that technicality consistently overlooked in the literal-mindedness of The Da Vinci Code); it can be entered only by becoming a new kind of human being–what Philip actually describes as “a new race of human be­ings . . . . Only true sons and daughters can gain immortality,” he writes in analogue 56, “and no one can gain it without becoming a true son and daughter.” Progeny cannot be fashioned out of flesh and blood; they are the fruit of an alchemy of consciousness.

Philip makes it clear that this is the kind of spiritual procreation that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were chiefly about. As we discussed in chapter 10, his symbol for this type of richly engendering spiritual love is the kiss, which (as is universally the case throughout the Near Eastern culture) is seen as a sign not of sexual attraction but of spiritual begetting. When he indicates in analogue 37 that “the Master loved her more than the other students and many times would kiss her on the mouth,” he is not describing an illicit romance but rather a sacred exchange of their deeply commingled beings. The spiritual kiss is the symbol par excellence of Fifth Way love.

From a Fifth Way standpoint, this kind of intense and trans­forming love, “which is really the birth-pangs of union at a higher plane,” will indeed bear fruit. But the fruit may not be human children so much as an energetic sphere of pure creativity, in which reality is touched at the core and love itself is the progeny.

As analogue 66 points out, “The one who creates objects [i.e., literal offspring] works outwardly in the external world. The one who labors in secret, however, works within the icon, hidden in­wardly from others.” In other words, the work goes on at the imaginal (or causal) level, and its potency is made manifest not by producing new people but by engendering transformed people­ giving birth to children “in the Realm of the Unseen,” in the words of the text. (Underscores mine)

“FIFTH WAY LOVE”:  AN EROTIC PATH TO TRANSFORMATION

The “Fifth Way” is a spiritual path based on relationship. Cynthia Bourgeault calls it “conscious love” rather than “tantric love” so as not to put a stumbling block before her parishioners. She is an Episcopal priest whose passion is to restore the romantic love affair between Jesus and Mary Magdalene as the center piece at the heart of Christianity. The term itself is a deliberate spin-off from George Gurdjieff’s “Fourth Way,” the “Way of the Conscious Man.” Boris Mouravieff (d.1966), a little known Russian esotericist who studied Gurdjieff’s system intimately, coined the phrase and used it in his three-volume Gnosis to represent “courtly love as a spiritual path and of the way of transformation through mystical union with one’s ‘polar being.'” Cynthia’s comment:

“While he [Mouravieff] stops short of saying that Jesus and Mary Magdalene practiced this path, he makes it clear that its headwaters lie deep within the marrow of Christianity itself, and he insists that it represents “The purest and most sublime realization of the Christian spiritual path.” 

THE “SONG OF SONGS”

More commonly known in Protestant circles as “The Song of Solomon, Bourgeault associates this erotic book of the Old Testament Bible with Mary Magdalene, seeing it as an ancient testament to the practice of “Fifth Way Love.” I will share my favorite passage from the Biblical texts and then offer a commentary on it. The song opens with the kiss that begets love:

The song of songs, which is Solomon’s. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. 

Because of the savour of thy goof ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into hs chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee…. 

The voice of my beloved! Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.

My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.

My beloved spake, and said unto me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.  Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Our winter is currently at the door in mid October, not a time to be leaping and skipping. Perhaps, then, we could see this passage metaphorically as describing the nature and character of Life itself and of the Beloved who abides within us each one, peaking out through the windows of our eyes and showing himself through the lattice of our veiled and guarded hearts. The Beloved is always there, “standing behind our wall,” when our world gets dark and seemingly impossible to navigate.  Always there to turn to for assurance that all is well and as it should be. Always there to love in passionate embrace and simply say: “I love you with all of my heart, with all of my mind, and with all of my body. With Solomon I sing . . .

Place me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. Strong as Death is love; intense as Sheol is its ardor. Its shafts are shafts of fire, flames of Yah (Yahweh). Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away.”

AN UNLIKELY BIBLICAL TEXT

Like Mary Magdalene herself, the Song of Songs has had a long his­tory of both admirers and detractors. It has been called, with some justification, “the most unbiblical book in the whole Bible,” and there are those who feel that its inclusion in among the wisdom writings of the Old Testament was a grand mistake. But others see it as nothing short of scripture’s mystical highpoint, an inexhaustible fountainhead of beauty and spiritual wisdom. Among this latter group was Rabbi Aqiba (d. 135), one of the most influential of the early rabbinic commentators, whose celebrated words eventually carried the day: “All the ages are not worth the day on which it was written for all the writings are holy, but the Song is the Holy of Holies.”

At the heart of all this consternation, as you might expect, is the fact that this text is a love song–and not just a mild-mannered, “spiritual” love song, but an unabashed celebration of erotic pleasure. From its opening salvo, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,” to its parting affirmation, “Love is as strong as death,” it never breaks stride, In eight canticles of stunningly evocative imagery, it sings the glories of carnal desire in exquisite and scintillating detail. 

KENOTIC LOVE

Kenosis is the act of emptying oneself, a characteristic applied, by Paul specifically, to the path that Jesus took in his life of service. It was the path Mother Theresa took and other saintly souls.  Cynthia writes: 

As Paul so profoundly realizes, self-emptying is the touchstone, the core reality underlying every moment of Jesus’s human journey. Self-emptying is what  brings him into human form, and self-emptying is what leads him out, returning him to the mode of glory. The full realization of Jesus’s divine selfhood [our divine Selfhood] comes not through concentration of being, but through voluntary divestment of it. . . . Stripping oneself and standing naked: this is the essence of the kenotic path.

KENOSIS IN THE FIFTH WAY

We have already seen that kenosis is the tie-rod of Jesus’s entire teaching, connecting the inner and outer realms of our human experience in a single, unified gesture. “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13) is one of his most celebrated dictums. But when that “friend” happens also to be one’s uniquely beloved, one’s romantic partner or spouse, kenotic practice takes on a particularly intense and even a sacra­mental character. This is because the root energy it works with is the transformative fire of eros, the energy of desiring. That messy, covetous, passion-ridden quicksilver of all creation is tamed and transformed into a substance of an entirely different order, and the force of the alchemy accounts for both the efficiency of this path and its terrifying intensity.

Vladimir Solovyov, that great nineteenth-century philosopher of love, was among the first to grasp the enormous implica­tion of this point, which defines both the modality of the Fifth Way and its ultimate destination:

The meaning and worth of love. .. is that it really forces us, with all our being, to acknowledge for another the same ab­solute central significance which, because of the power of our egoism, we are conscious of only in our own selves. Love is important not as one of our feelings, but … as the shifting of the very center of our personal lives. This is characteristic of every kind of love, but predominantly of sexual love [erotic love]; it is distinguished from other kinds of love by greater intensity, by a more engrossing character, and by the possibil­ity of a more complete overall reciprocity. Only this love can lead to the real and indissoluble union of two lives into one; only of it do the words of Holy Writ say: “They shall be one flesh,” that is, shall become one real being.

In the path of “Fifth Way Love,” as Cynthia Bourgeault presents it in her book, and as she portrays the intimate companionship of Mary Magdalene and Jesus, the eros is transformed and transmuted to a higher level so as to become an erotically ecstatic bridge between the physical and the spiritual worlds, making the oneness of heaven and earth an actual and tangible experience.  The ultimate transformation takes place between “polar beings” who become one blended substance, so that one cannot tell where the boundaries of one’s own body stops and the other’s begins. For there is no “other” and no boundaries. There is only the One.  

We will shift gears in my next post, leaving the realm of the “Holy of Holies” to explore the mysteries of the Universe–as Walter Russell understands and explains them anyway. We are in for a profoundly intellectual roller coaster ride. So, sharpen your mental focus before you read my next post. The theme will remain in the domain of the masculine and feminine energies at work within us and throughout the illusory universe.  Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

 

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Finding Self in Another

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.”                                                                                                    –William Jennings Bryan

Have you ever experienced a moment, perhaps while meditating or reading a book, when the big picture flashed in front of your mind’s eye for just a split second and it was so big that you were at a loss to find words to even begin to describe what you are seeing?  Well, I’m having such a moment now, and I will take up the challenge to find the words that adequately, if only partially, convey the vision that is currently out-picturing itself in my tiny little mind.

The kernel of truth in this vision of the big picture that jumps out at me is that we can find ourselves only in one another, because it’s in another human being that we have a window through which to peer into and connect with the Whole of which we are a part. And it’s how I treat the one right next to me that determines whether that window stays open or closes.

I have come to realize this truth right here in this little house on Bilbo Street, where, in my ageing years, I find myself, by choice and well as chance, living closely with another human being, a person whom I invited some sixteen years ago to be my wife and traveling companion for the rest of our shared journey here on Earth.  It is here with her that I have come to know more fully and completely what it means to love another as my Self, and that love can only be unconditional – naturally so. I could not have any conditions placed upon how I love my Self. It’s impossible even from an egotistical standpoint and much more from an angelic standpoint of authenticity as a Self-realized human being.  The essence of the truth of love is its unconditional nature, and the truth of love is oneness.

“DEEP TRUTH”

Yes, if you’ve been following my blogs, you can tell that I’m reading another book that is giving me yet another window through which to peer into the world through the eyes of another author, this time through the eyes of world-renown lecturer, scientist, and prolific author, Gregg Braden. His book of 2011 is DEEP TRUTH.  And, of course, like most books I’ve read and written about lately, this one, in my humble opinion, is another “must read” for everyone on the planet.

As a side note – though not so incidental to this post – I picked up Braden’s book at a friend and colleague’s house up in Denver, Colorado while attending to him as he completed his earthly journey of service to his fellow wayfarers.  I took the book home with me as a memento, along with a portrait of the developer of our chiropractic profession, Dr. B.J. Palmer (BJ), that was painted by a mutual friend, Frank Brown.  At the bottom of this portrait, the artist inscribed a famous quote that has stayed with me since my college days:

We never know how far reaching something we may think, say or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.  It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Get the idea, all else will follow.

BJ called it “The Big Idea.”  The big idea throughout Braden’s book is that we are One People who share one small, almost insignificant planet, in a vast cosmos along with billions of other incarnate beings – or is it rather One Being incarnate in billions of humans — and we’ve been doing this for a much larger period of time than we’ve been taught in high-school history class, the story line and poignant message of Gregg Braden’s book.

According to the author’s exhaustive research over his twenty-plus years as a scientist and discoverer of the “deep truth” weaving human civilizations together as one people, our history as a species dates back to pre-ice-age eras and encompasses the rise and fall of many civilizations far more advanced than our own.  His moral message is that unless we remember our past mistakes that led to the collapse of our numerous attempts to create a truly civil way of living together, we are condemned to repeat them – an idea, first put forward by philosopher George Santayana (1863 – 1952), whose time has come to our generation for serious consideration, for our days are numbered.

Groundhog Day

The kernel of Gregg’s message is summarized in the following paragraph, a paragraph that gave rise to the vision of the Big Picture that flashed across the window of my mind:

Like a real-life Groundhog Day (the 1993 motion picture where Bill Murray plays a man caught in a single day of his life that repeats dozens of times until he recognizes the moment when his choice can break the cycle and change the outcome, our understanding of how our ancestors responded to cycles of crises in the past may offer us the opportunity to choose wisely before we make the same kinds of mistakes that led to the collapse of great early civilizations.

I had never seen this message in the movie itself, but it’s there to see, intentionally or not, when we back away from our immediate surroundings and our personal stories and take a glimpse at the larger picture – a long glimpse.

The choice Bill Murray’s character had to make was an internal one, which alone could break the spell of living the same day over and over.  After doing everything imaginable in his outer lifestyle to break the spell, all to no avail, he one day woke up with the “big idea” that he could love the people in his life and his work, including the woman who was his partner in news-reporting, a woman whom he had womanized as a typical male seeking self-gratification.  He finally broke through the veil of his own selfish, self-centered preoccupation and began seeing her for who she was, someone whom he could love and with whom he could find meaning and purpose for his life.  When he finally broke through and made that internal choice – to love another human being as much as he loved himself and to treat others with respect and compassion, which he began doing – a new day dawned.

To relate this to the theme of the groundhog story, although in a converse way, when he saw his own shadow and made a choice to change the way he was looking at the world, his winter of endless repetitive days came to an end as he awakened to a New Day.

Gregg Braden’s book offers us a new and more comprehensive view of our world and of our past.  It starts by unlearning our history so that we can see and learn what actually occurred in our past that brought us to naught so many times in our endeavors to create a lasting civilization. He ends this particular chapter by posing these questions:

To think this way leads to new questions that we owe it to ourselves to answer:

  • What can we learn from the collapsed civilizations of the past that may help us avoid in our time the mistakes they made in theirs?
  • Where are we in H. G. Wells’s “race” between learning about the past and catastrophe?

I will end on that note for us all to ponder.  Until my next post,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

Visit my Health Light Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com. for informative articles on holistic healthcare and living.

Here’s a link to Gregg Braden’s latest film: https://www.gaia.com/lp/missing-links/ 

 

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